A few hours ago, I was in Dunkin’ Donuts ordering a late night tea and I heard a fellow customer say, “I wish donuts were healthy for you” to which someone replied, “I wish they were too. I would eat them like all the time.”
Something like that.
We come from a society that is constantly questioning food choices, our image, where the weight-loss industry has an annual revenue of $20 billion. Society programs many of us feel like we need to look a certain way which can have a negative impact. The pressures to live up to these unattainable standards can lead to serious mental and physical problems.
But what if you’re also part of the LGBTQ community?
According to the International Journal of Eating Disorders, “Although lesbian ideology rejects our culture’s narrowly defined ideal of female beauty and opposes over emphasis placed on women’s physical attractiveness, such ideology may not be strong enough to enable lesbians to overcome already internalized cultural beliefs and values about female beauty….even as the lesbian woman increasingly identifies with a lesbian community that ideologically professes self-acceptance, she is still a part of a great cultural context that values beauty and thinness in women.”
So, just because I don’t really feel the need to dress for someone’s approval, doesn’t let me live in this world where women aren’t told to be thin and not eat pizza.
Gay men also face similar pressures. In the book, Looking Queer: Body Image and Identity in Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, and Transgender Communities, there’s a quote: “What I look like stops me from going to dance parties or nightclubs or saunas. I don’t go to Oxford Street [main, Sydney, gay commercial area], I feel locked out from the whole scene, sometimes as if I’m not part of the community at all, like there’s no places for me; I’m not real. It’s like a new kind of discrimination, a new sort of homophobia.”
That’s the heart of the complexity: the fear stemming from your identity as well as your body-image.
The transgender community already faces the most discrimination within non-cis groups. This is especially true because of gender dysphoria, or “feelings of dissatisfaction or discomfort between the gender you were assigned at birth and the gender you are.” A transgender individual’s ability to appear within our society’s confined beauty standards is even harder when your body doesn’t fit neatly in a box.
While it’s true these fears do not define the whole community, there is a complex intersection between the struggles of body acceptance and an LGBTQ identity. While cis people may have to work through accepting their body, they don’t have their sexual preferences complicating these issues.
I hope you go get a donut now.